As summer approaches, some students have a daunting task to accomplish: finding an internship.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the majority of employers expect applicants to have relevant work experience, and 56% prefer it to come from an internship.
For students who already have a summer internship planned, this statistic is music to their ears. For those who don’t, it’s a reality check. But there’s still time to get an internship, so don’t panic just yet.
Here’s a guide to finding and landing an internship with helpful tips from Lindsay Schiller, assistant director for career development and academic relations at Virginia Tech.
1. Determine what you want. Set your goals, research the companies you want to apply to, and decide how you want to be paid.
- Goal: Do you have a specific career field in mind? Do you want a job in the same company after the internship? Are you open to exploring internships outside of your major?
- Company: What are the values of the company? Review the mission statement, research the company culture, and decide if you would be a good fit.
- Compensation: Ideally, Schiller said, all internships should be paid positions, given that interns work in a professional environment. But unpaid internships can also provide valuable experience.
2. Gather your materials. Virginia Tech Career and Professional Development offers in-depth resume and cover letter services. Take it to your advantage.
- To resume: Career and Professional Development offers resources to help you format your resume and a checklist of things to include. They also offer advice for students who want to meet one-on-one and receive recommendations specifically tailored to their resume.
- Cover letter: This is the perfect place to add personality to your name. Although not all companies need one, Schiller advises candidates to always submit one with their resume if it’s available in the app.
3. Browse job sites and find job postings. LinkedIn, Handshake, and Hokie Mentorship Connect are good places to start. If you can’t find an internship that interests you, make an appointment with a guidance counselor who will help you search.
- Who to make an appointment with? Choose an appointment with your college liaison officer.
4. Prepare your social media. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers check a candidate’s social media accounts during the hiring process, so carefully assess your online presence.
- LinkedIn: According to Manifest, a business information and practical advice site, 67% of employers check LinkedIn profiles before making an offer. It is therefore important to configure your profile. Build a professional brand for yourself and build network connections. According to LinkedIn, 85% of jobs go to candidates who have networked.
- Personal accounts: Delete questionable photos, consider switching your account to private mode, and do your best. Employers don’t need to know what you did on Center Street, and they certainly don’t need to see it.
5. Apply. You’ve already gathered your documents and a career counselor has reviewed them, so this is the easy part.
- Follow the instructions. One of the easiest ways for employers to cross potential candidates off the list is to see that they filled out the application incorrectly or did not attach the required documents. If the application says to include a cover letter, take a few extra minutes to write your cover letter.
- Send a follow-up email. Leave a lasting impression by making a personal connection with the hiring manager.
6. Think beyond the internship. There are other ways for students to learn the skills employers are looking for. Opportunities may include volunteering, job shadowing, research, etc.
No matter where you are in your professional life, Career and professional development At Virginia Tech, resources are available to students for the duration of their college education plus two years after graduation. Students can make as many appointments there as necessary with guidance counsellors.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Schiller said. “You don’t have to do it alone.”
By Savannah Webb ’23, University Relations Intern